Last month singer Adele singled out a concertgoer for using a video camera instead of living in the moment and experiencing the gig.
The 28-year-old pop star pointed to a woman in the crowd and said: “Could you stop filming me with that video camera? Because I’m really here in real life, you can enjoy it in real life rather than through your camera.”
Adele isn’t the only celebrity to be irked by the sea of cameras and smartphones they face during public appearances. Jennifer Lawrence told off a reporter using his smartphone during an interview at the Golden Globes, while Kate Bush asked fans not to take photos or film during her shows saying, “I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras.”
Alicia Keys recently found a solution to the problem that doesn’t involve the public humiliation of fans and journalists: a lockable pouch into which guests are required to place their mobile devices. The pouches are made by San Francisco startup Yondr to allow music venues, schools and businesses to create phone-free zones.
Keys tested the system during a gig at the Highline Ballroom in New York a few weeks ago. Other artists to deploy the technology include bands like Guns N Roses and The Lumineers as well as comedians Chris Rock, Louis CK and Dave Chappelle.
“It’s a fallacy to think you can experience something and document it at the same time, regardless of what Google and Apple say. When you use your phone to record something or are texting you are not really there. Your mind is somewhere else,” says Graham Dugoni, founder of Yondr.
Wesley Schultz, The Lumineers’ singer and guitarist, told the Washington Post that Yondr is the best solution to an awkward problem.
“I’ve tried all sorts of things. If you yell at the audience or treat them like kids, they’re going to act like kids,” he said. “It’s a little bit clunky, but it’s better than telling them to leave their phones in their cars or forbidding it.”
“Generally people don’t let loose because they are afraid of showing up on YouTube and being accountable for what they do all the time,” he explains. “Yondr frees people up.”
Dugoni insists that it’s not about punishing people for their smartphone use, but about liberating them.
Outside of the entertainment industry, Yondr gets a lot of requests from schools.